Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Canadian Figure Skating Legend ~ Toller Cranston

Born Shalitoe Toller Montague Cranston April 20, 1949 in Hamilton, Ontario;
Died January 24, 2015 at age 65 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
...from an apparent heart attack.

He won the 'free-skate' segment of the World Championships four times and won the Bronze Medal at the Olympic Games in Austria. Toller Cranston, a prolific Canadian figure skater, was widely credited for bringing new artistry to the sport whose creativity changed his sport's esthetic. His free-skating style inspired future generations of champion skaters ~ and was one of the most sought-after choreographers. Jeanne Becker, his long-time friend who first met Cranston in 1979 when she lived across the road from him in Cabbagetown in Toronto said, “He was absolutely outrageous!”

Artistic Career: Living also in Kirkland Lake and Montreal (attending Ecole de Beaux Arts), his mother (also a painter)...both her discipline and schooling were both 'too structured'. He became self-supportive as an artist, making enough money to cover his skating expenses. He held his first exhibition at his coach, Ellen Burka's home, in the spring of 1969; and in November 1971, he had another successful one-man-show in Toronto (the result of almost a year's work). He continued to have gallery and museum displays with over 250 exhibitions around the world. He continued to paint even after his official skating retirement.

Skating Career: After an initial failed experience with ballet lessons, Cranston started skating at the age of 7, when his parents bought him a pair of hockey skates. With these, he tried to 'dance on the ice'...which later was called figure skating. His mother, reluctant to allow him to pursue the sport seriously, at the age of 11, Toller met Eva Vasek, who impressed by his talent, coached him 'for free' for the next 8 years. In 1964, at the age of 13, he won 1964 Canadian Junior Championships. After failing to make the Canadian Team for the 1968 Olympics, Cranston struggled with motivation and lack of training discipline. The following season, he began to work with Ellen Burka in Toronto who required him to do several 'run-throughs' of his entire program....and his results began to improve: 3rd at the Canadian Championships in1969 and 2nd in 1970.

He quickly gained a reputation as ...the most innovative and exciting artistic skater of his time. He was the first to emphasize the use of the whole body to express the well as to execute skating moves in best form...even to wearing elaborate costumes. He was particularly known for the quality and inventiveness of his precision landings...and inventive choreographing combination jumps including triple revolutions. His goal in skating was to create 'theatre on ice' as a form of dance expression...rather than winning medals. His first National title included a Triple Salchow and loop jumps (receiving a standing ovation from the audience). At the 1972 Canadian Championships, his marks included 4 6's for 'artistic impression' and 6 5.9's for technical merit. In the1972 World Figure Skating Championships, he won the 'free-skating' medal and again in 1974. He was also the 1976 Olympic Bronze Medalist winning the 'free-skate'.

Professional Career: From 1976 to 1994 he toured with many skating shows in United States, Canada and Europe. One major European show promoted him as Le Patineur du Siecle (the Skater of the Century).He performed 'Skating Specials' for CBC Television which were distributed throughout 67 countries. After breaking his leg while practising for a holiday show in Vail, Colorado, he decided in 1997 to retire from professional skating.
He sold his house in Toronto
and bought a house in San Miguel, Mexico.

As the naturally artistically-gifted Brian Orser once explained,
Canadian men had always been so far behind after the now-dead compulsory figures
that they needed a virtual knockout punch just to climb back into contention.”

So, Orser became the first practitioner of the Triple Axle...
Kurt Browning introduced the Quad...
and Elvis Stojko made the Quad-combination de rigtueur.

Without compulsory figures, Cranston assumed he would have won on the strength of his free-skating segments. He believed figure skating should be a mix of art and athleticism, not just art...while hyper-extending the creative side. Toller Cranston was an artist of considerable talent who produced thousands of paintings. He said, “I was an artist who skated...not the other way around.”

In 2003, he was awarded recognition
with his Star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto.

Merle Baird-Kerr...written January 27, 2015
Your comments about this 'legend' are appreciated.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Maryse Carmichael

Snowbird Pilot

Lieutenant-Colonel Maryse Carmichael is an accomplished pilot who became the first woman in Canadian history selected to fly with the famous Snowbirds Aerobatic Team. In November 2000 she was chosen to fly #3 position with the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron.

Born in Quebec City in 1971, Lt.-Col Carmichael served as Air cadet from 1984 to 1988. She joined the Canadian Forces in 1990 and completed pilot training in January 1994...receiving her wings in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. She then served as Flying Instructor and the School Operations Officer and Standards Officer. In Greenwood, Nova Scotia, Lt.-Col Carmichael was with the 434 Combat Support Squadron ~ flying the Bombardier-Canadair CE-144 and CC-144 Challenger Aircraft. Before joining the Snowbirds, she was in the VIP transport role with 412 Transport Squadron in Ottawa, Ontario and flew such notables as Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Governor General Adrienne Clarkson around the world.

While flying with the Snowbirds, Maryse was promoted to the rank of Major and became the team's Executive Officer. After her stint with the legendary Snowbirds, she began working as Deputy Wing Operations Officer at 3 Wing Bagotville. She was named commander of the Snowbirds in 2010...becoming the first female pilot to lead the famous aerobatic squad.

Lt.-Col is married to Major Scott Greenough, a Canadian Forces fighter pilot...they have two daughters. As of May 2010, Lt.-Col Carmichael had accumulated 3200 hours of jet flying time.

Early Interest: Maryse Carmichael has been fascinated by aviation for as long as she can remember. While attending the Bagotville Airshow at the age of 16, she recalls being mesmerized by the feats and precision and discipline. As soon as she was able, she followed in her three brothers' footsteps and joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets with 630 Squadron in Quebec City...with one single goal in mind: to fly! At age 16, she realized her dream and was awarded scholarships for both her glider and private pilot wings.

Aviation Training Flights: Maryse soon continued her aviation adventures as a military pilot, joining the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1990. Over her 22 year career, she accumulated nearly 3,500 hours on three main aircraft types...the 'Tutor' jet trainer...the 'Challenger' (VIP transport aircraft)...and the 'Hercules' Tactical airlift transport.

Achievement: In November 2000, Maryse made history when she was selected, after a grueling competition, to fly with 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, the Canadian Forces' Snowbirds. She was the Snowbirds' first female pilot and the first in the world to fly with a Jet Demonstration Team!

More Challenging Positions: After her tour of duty with the Snowbirds, Lt.-Col Carmichael was assigned more challenging goals within the Air Force...both at the tactical and operational levels. Specifically, she served as the Operations Officer on 436 Transport Squadron...and as Deputy Wing Operations Officer at 3 Wing Bagotville.

In May 2010, Maryse was appointed as the Commanding Officer of the Snowbirds ~ another world's first for a female aviator. She considers her time leading the men and women of RCAF's Snowbirds to be the pinnacle of her career.

Awards: The recipient of many, Maryse was recognized in 2006 in the Top 100 as one of Canada's Most Powerful Women by the Women Executive Network. Now retired from the RCAF, Maryse shares her passion for aviation with her husband...Lieutenant-Colonel Greenough...and RCAF fighter pilot and their two daughters.

Maryse's Keynote Presentations
bring a fresh and insightful perspective to Leadership.
Her personal experiences in high-stress situations, coupled with unique perspectives on team dynamics (from a woman's perspective) offer an insightful view into leadership effectiveness. Perhaps, surprisingly, when all is said and done, her underlying message is not one of gender...
but one of inspirational leadership rooted in respect, teamwork and trust.

Discover More Online:

Canada's Air Force ~ Snowbirds: the official website from the Department of National Defence.
Career Options for Women ~ Maryse Carmichael (from the TV series Career Options).
Official Report 1405 Number 077 ~ regarding accomplishments of Maryse Carmichael.
She's the Boss: Snowbirds' first female pilot to lead aerobatic squad ~ the Globe and Mail, May 2010.
Woman Flies High as new Snowbirds' Leader ~ CBC News, 02 May 2010.

Words of Wisdom
“A great gift has been made to each of us…
the privilege of living in the world for a short span of time
and the opportunity of doing our part to inspire civilization,
to advance knowledge…both scientific knowledge of man
and the wisdom from above.
This opportunity should be regarded as our sacred trust.”
(Author unknown)

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 28, 2015
Your views are to:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Act of Humanity

The smallest act of kindness
is worth more than the greatest intentions.

Puppies for Sale

A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign to advertise the 4 pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy. “Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies. “Well,” said the farmer as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.”

The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then, reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I've got thirty five cents. Is that enough to take a look?” The farmer thoughtfully said, “Sure.” And with that, he let out a whistle... “Here, Dolly!” he called. Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something moving inside the doghouse.

Slowly, another ball of fur appeared, this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid. In a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up. “I want that one,” the little boy said, pointing to the runt. The farmer knelt down at the boy's side and said, “You don't want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.” With that, the little boy stepped back from the fence and reaching down, he rolled up one leg of his trousers. In so doing, he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg and attaching itself to a specially made shoe.

Looking back at the farmer, he said, “You see, Sir, I don't run too well myself and he will need someone to understand.” With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked up the little pup. Holding it carefully, he handed it to the little boy. “How much?” asked the little boy...“No charge,” answered the farmer, “there's no charge for love!”

The world is full of people who need someone who understands.
(Gratitude to Tom for the above story.)

Snapping Turtle's Samaritan

Pablo Cafiso and his wife, having previously visited Southern Ontario, left their home in Buenos Aires and immigrated to Canada a few years ago. They loved Niagara Escarpment's surrounding beauty that Mother Nature has provided...and moved to Burlington. They were astounded at the canopy of tree cover over the city and nearby towns...Lake Ontario, Burlington Bay, Cootes Paradise and abounding species of wildlife. Currently, they live in Dundas.

Mark McNeil wrote the following, published in The Hamilton Spectator's July 2 issue:

Turtle Watch
Pablo Cafiso didn't waste any time. He saw the snapping turtle walking on Olympic Drive so he hit the brakes and pulled over to help. He and another person stopped motorists, halting the traffic and “saw it to safety across the road,” he recently wrote on the Dundas Turtle Watch web page.

The rescue was a scene that's been played out many times over the years. Sometimes, it's Good Samaritans who happen to pass by at the right time. Other times, it's members of the turtle assistance group who do shifts watching for the reptiles along Olympic Drive and Cootes Drive.

But despite these efforts and extensive study and rehabilitation work by the Royal Botanical Gardens, turtle populations are continuing to decline. Cootes Paradise used to be teeming with numerous varieties of turtles in healthy numbers. “It's a problem all over the continent because of...declining habitat...road mortality...pollution...and even illegal collection for pet trade. It was estimated in the 1980's there were more than 600 snapping turtles in Cootes Paradise. Now, that number has fallen to about 60,” says Tys Theysmeyer, head of natural lands for the RBG. “We know the snapping turtles we have are really old. In captivity, they tend to live to be about 50 years old. In the wild, it's thought they can live somewhat longer, but scientists are unsure.”

The turtle, rescued by Cafiso had a tag with the number 544. He took a photograph of the reptile and submitted it to the Turtle Watch group, which passed it on to Theysmeyer.
Based on the number...and size of the turtle,
he believes the creature is at least 50 years old
and nearing the end of its lifespan.

The photo, taken by Pablo Cafiso, shows “Grandfather Turtle” set safely amongst tall blades of grass.

May you always walk in the sunshine, my Friend.
May you always have love to share;
health to spare and friends who care.
(Native American philosophy)

Crafted by Merle Baird-Kerr...November 9, 2014
(updated July 4, 2015)
Comments to:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mascot for the Pan American Games and Parapan American Games ~ Toronto 2015

Mascot ~ a symbol, usually an animal...believed to bring 'good luck'.
The Pan American Games' program consists of
36 sports and 40 disciplines.

Most professional sports organizations create or select a Mascot to represent their team(s) in competing events. The Pan American Games' mascot, an animal or human figure representing the cultural heritage of the host country, was introduced in 1979 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It has played an important part in the Games' identity and promotion. The mascots of the recent Pan American Games in Guadalajara were Huchi, Leo and Gavo ~ representing local figures in Guadalajara.

For three glorious weeks, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is hosting 6100 athletes from 41 countries (North America, South America and Caribbean) and a total of 825 medal events. This is a world-class sports spectacle in a world-class city. The TORONTO 2015 Games is the largest multi-sport Games ever held in Canada! (All soccer games to be played at our Tiger Cats' stadium in Hamilton)

PACHI ~ TORONTO 2015's Official Mascot

PACHI...a young porcupine who grew up just west of Toronto in a forested area of the Niagara Escarpment, isn't your typical porcupine; he's outgoing and loves to explore new places and meet new friends. And while there are some prickly challenges in being accepted as a porcupine, PACHI is out to prove otherwise
PACHI has 41 quills ~ one for each of the Pan American countries.
His quills are 5 different colours and representing the qualities that he holds:
Green is Youth...Fuchsia is Passion...Blue is Collaboration...Orange is Determination...and Purple is Creativity. PACHI, like other porcupines, has a visual impairment and consequently, has difficulty seeing people and objects that are far away.

One day, from his Escarpment home, PACHI vaguely noticed lights and heard noise coming from the east. Always an adventure-seeker, as he approached, he noticed that everyone was diverse and unique like him. PACHI's dream is for everyone to celebrate their differences and be proud, like him, of their individuality. Everyone was welcoming and this made it fun and easy for PACHI to meet new friends, explore the cool neighbourhoods and attend tons of great events. The city was so inviting that PACHI made Toronto his new home. He quickly learned that Toronto was hosting the Pan American and Parapan American Games. He heard that thousands of athletes, spectators and celebrities would be coming to the city. “What a perfect opportunity to get involved...and play host to the Americas and the Caribbean!” he thought.

PACHI is delightful...he dons a yellow-peaked cap with TORONTO 2015 emblazoned on it. Bracelets on his wrists symbolize both sets of Games. His 41 quills represent the participating countries and the 5-colour quills tell of his personal qualities. He is always smiling and prancing in 'dance mode'.

Of Interest: Porcupines are found throughout both North and South America...
and in more than 20 of the Pan American countries competing at the Games.
Porcupines normally have more than 30,000 quills.
They climb trees, swim and explore. They feed on fruit, leaves and bark.
The Niagara Escarpment is a massively forested limestone ridge
 extending from the Niagara River  to Georgian Bay ~.
 known for its waterfalls, river system, forests and beautiful vistas.

About PACHI's Creators
(The Porcupine motif was chosen in 2013 from among 6 finalists:
porcupine, owl, bear, raccoon, moose and twins)

Team Porcupine” included a 4-person group of Grade 8 students from Buttonville Public School in Markham, Ontario. The group entered the TORONTO 2015 Mascot Creation Challenge ~ as part of a school project led by Physical Education teacher, Mari Ellery. The four friends put their heads together and spent 2 months perfecting their porcupine and adding as many Pan Am colours as they could.
Their hard work paid off.

* * * * *

From the Writer: A painting I bought several years ago at an Art Gallery north of Huntsville (believe it was called the Eagle's Nest)...illustrated a mother raccoon with a couple cubs at a lake's edge, sipping cool water...or maybe, looking for fish (?). On this occasion, I attended the wedding of a High School friend of my son's; CJ had finished university, as had my son; marrying a nurse, their marriage vows were declared in a church in Whitney located near the Algonquin Park entrance. Following this marital event, we travelled north to explore and visit an acquaintance. At this hilltop gallery, my son bought his first painting of a stately stag...head and shoulders so vividly painted, one could observe the 'velvet' on his rack of antlers. Magnificent it was!

A raccoon walks into a bar.
The bar tender says, “Don't Shoot! I'll give you the money!”
(This is funny because raccoons have 'bandit masks' across the eyes
which make them look like they are robbers...and the bar tender
thought the raccoon was going to rob him.)
But really, the raccoon just wanted to order a drink.

Feline Observation: Two cats peering through the window, see a raccoon staring at them. The cats muse...“ Must be a burglar ~ he's wearing a mask.”

Raccoon's Happy Thought: “I'll just knock over this trash can and spread the garbage around ~ then I'll laugh when you blame the dog the next morning!”

Raccoon asks, “Why were Indians here first?”
Because they have reservations.”

Merle Baird-Kerr...written July 11, 2015
Comments to:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Pan American Games ~ Toronto 2015's Opening Ceremony

Superb! Held at the Rogers Centre ~ called the Pan American Dome ~ for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. I wept with a tissue or two...emotionally with pride, watching the participating athletes as they en-massed the Dome in uniform representing their countries and waving their nation's flag...
6100 of them from 41 countries (North America, South America and the Caribbean)...vying for medals in their individual sports. Peter Mansbridge and Scott Russell, broadcasters with CBC, professionally walked us through the proceedings. I share some of my highlights from the 3-hour TV coverage.

The ceremony kicked off with a gravity-daring stunt from Olympic gold medallist Donovan Bailey in a pre-taped bit that depicted members of Canada's Olympic gold medal-winning 1996 4x100 relay team trotting the Pan American flame around Toronto and eventually to the top of the CN Tower. Bailey was the last to receive the flame and promptly base-jumped off the 533-metre-high structure in free-fall, then parachuting onto the roof of the Dome. The star sprinter then appeared live in the stadium, descending from the ceiling. WOW!

The crowd of over 45,000 rose to its feet as Team Canada...717 of them...led by flag-bearer and veteran paddler, Mark Oldershaw of Burlington, marched into the stadium...whistling and cheering in a standing ovation that lasted until the athletes themselves took their seats.

Margarita Caropresi, 53, who came to Canada from Mexico 17 years ago, said, “The thrill of seeing my native country and my adopted one is almost too much for me to bear. I haven't been able to sleep for a week.” She brought a small Mexican flag, beaded necklaces in the country's colours and a pendant that includes both the Canadian and Mexican flags. “That's a big thing in Latin America. Here it's just like another game but for us it's the PAN AM ~ so we celebrate this as a serious the Olympics.”

Roberto de Olivera, 39, came from Brazil to volunteer for the Games and said the chance to support his national team was a 'dream come true'. “Maybe I'll cry too,” he said. “Because it's emotional to see your country from the outside. When you live there, you don't feel the same, but when you go outside your country, you feel proud because they represent you outside.”

Hometown pride was also in full force...
with the crowd a sea of red and white.

The one-hour stage presentation depicted children, who molding their young lives, became youth of teenage with a dream; they challenge themselves with courage and determination to become the dream's reality...however, they face failure, injuries, disappointments and often depression with these setbacks...then trying recover, it becomes difficult to 'climb the ladder' to the top of their potential abilities to performance levels...physically, psychologically and artistically. Creatively designed by Cirque du Soleil, performed by them and with Toronto ballet dancers, it was superbly set to music and represented just what it took to become competing athletes of the caliber seen here at the Games.

After speeches and 'oaths' were taken by athletes and judges,
the Pan American flame was transferred to the cauldron.

Pine Cone Cauldron Forged in Hamilton

Janie Ginsberg (Hamilton Spectator) writes: The Pan Am cauldron is a 34-tonne multi-coloured pine cone ~ and a Hamilton legacy. Lit at the opening ceremonies on Friday night, the cauldron can be found burning at the Pan Am Dome at 1Blue Jays Way in Toronto.

Designed by Cirque du Soleil's creative team and manufactured by Arcelor Mittal Dofasco in Hamilton, it represents the work of more than 5,400 employees. “We've had tremendous support from people being involved in the manufacturing of the steel that went into the cauldron,” said the steelmaker's CEO, Sean Donnelly.
Ten types of steel went into the creation of the giant pine cone,
with each scale laser cut with an image of a Pan Am sport.
The project was 18 months in the making.
The inspiration for the pine cone design was actually sketched on a napkin, Cirque du Soleil creative director Jean Guibert said at a news conference on Thursday. “There is a great human story around the cauldron,” he said.

Donnelly said the cauldron is more than a work of art; it acts as a metaphor for Arcelor's performance.
He stated, “The Games themselves are about presenting athletes that strive to continue improving their performance...and we are building the competitive fire within our organization to drive results that we need to be a world-class performer in our industry.”

Although the official cauldron will stay in Toronto after the Games,
a replica...'the people's cauldron'...which is a third of the size
will remain on Hamilton soil.

Back in January, Arcelor and TO2015 hosted an event that brought 300 people from 30 communities together in Hamilton to take part in the replica's creation. Each group was told to create art, representative of their community using pine cones. The designs were then used to inspire the creation of the scales of the cone on cauldron, which were finally created by artists from Toronto-based non-profit 'Steps Initiative' program.
For us,it's about the legacy of the cauldron itself,” said Donnelly.
Arcelor employees take extensive pride in seeing the fruits of their work
in two beautiful cauldrons.”

Our aspirations are our possibilities” (Robert Browning)

Dreams are like the paints of a great artist.
Your dreams are your paints...the world is your canvas. the brush that converts your dreams into a masterpiece of reality.”
(Author unknown)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written July 11, 2015
To to:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Meeting David Livingstone

A few days ago, I received a note from my son:
Re: Meeting Dr. Nelson
“Last night I accompanied Pastor Matt on a pastoral visitation for one of the senior members. Since it was the same place I was last November, I had a brief tour. Shown the exact spot where I had seized, it was actually within a stone's throw of the Emergency entrance. I viewed the actual room where I was treated on arrival...and had a brief opportunity to meet Dr. Nelson, who had been assigned to my case on ER arrival. My wrist band said, “Dr. Hilal Abboushi”, but he was the assigned internalist after ER revival. And, of course, there was a cardiologist involved.
But it was Dr. Nelson who actually saved my life.”

When I read the foregoing, my immediate memory flash was about... 
Meeting Dr. Livingstone!
What do I know about him? Not Much!
Now, my interest was piqued as I recalled the greeting
that has long been remembered over the years.

Dr. Livingston, I presume?”
asked Henry Morton Stanley
as he met this man...unheard of and unseen for four years,
…supposedly 'disappeared' off the planet.

Early Life: David Livingstone was born 19 March 1813, in the mill town of Blantyre, Scotland in a tenement building for workers of a cotton factory along the banks of the Clyde River. At the age of 10, he was employed in the cotton mill. He and his 12-year-old brother worked 12 to 14 hour days as 'piecers' (tying broken cotton threads on the spinning machines). He was a student at the Charing Cross Medical School from 1838-40; his courses covered...medical practices , midwifery and botany.

His father, Neil, was a Sunday School teacher and a tea-totaller who handed out Christian tracts on his travels from door to door as a tea salesman. He read extensively books on theology, travels and most missionary enterprises. Understandingly, young David became a very avid reader; however he enjoyed scouring the countryside for animal, plant and geological specimens in local limestone quarries. David's deep interest in nature and science
led him to investigate the relationship between religion and science.

At Anderson's College in Glasgow, he attended Greek and theology lectures. Then later, at London Missionary Society for missionary training. Livingstone hoped to go to China as a missionary, but due to the First Opium War in1839, he was encouraged by the LMS missionary, Robert Moffat, that African slave trade might be destroyed through the influence of 'Legitimate Trade' and the spread of Christianity. Livingstone, then focused his ambitions on South Africa.

Exploration of Southern and Central Africa: Livingstone was one of the first Westerners to make a transcontinental journey across Africa. His motto, inscribed in the base of the statue dedicated to him at Victoria Falls was: Christianity, Commerce and Civilization…which would form an alternative to the slave trade which was still rampant in Africa at that time. It was the abolition of African slave trade ~ his primary motivation. To him, the key to achieving these goals was the navigation of the Zambezi River…a Christian commercial highway into the interior. He returned to Britain to try to garner support for his ideas ~ and to publish a book on his travels which brought him fame as one of the leading explorers of the age. With the help of the Royal Geographical Society, Livingstone was appointed as “Her Majesty’s Consul” for the east coast of Africa.

Zambezi Expedition: The British Government arranged to fund Livingstone’s idea and he returned to Africa as head of the Zambezi Expedition to examine the natural resources of southeastern Africa to open up the River Zambezi. Unfortunately, it turned out to be completely impassable to boats past the Cahora Bassa rapids: a series of cataracts and rapids that Livingstone had failed to explore on his eastern travels. The expedition lasted from March 1858 until the middle of 1864.

The River Nile: In January, 1866, he returned to Africa, this time to Zanzibar from where he set out to seek the source of the Nile…identifying Lake Albert on Lake Victoria as the source (which was partially correct as the Nile ‘bubbles from the ground, high in the mountains of Burundi’ (halfway between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria).

The year 1869, began with Livingstone finding himself ill while in the jungle. He was rescued by Arab traders who gave him medicines and carried him to an Arab outpost.

Geographical Discoveries: He discovered for Western science, numerous geographical features such as Lake Ngami, Lake Malawi and Lake Bangweulu…in addition to Victoria Falls and the course of many rivers, especially the upper Zambezi. The farthest north he reached (the northern end of Lake Tanganyika), was still south of the equator. He did not penetrate the rain forest of the River Congo any further downstream than Ntangwe near Misisi.
Livingstone was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society of London
and made a Fellow in the Society with which he had a strong association the rest of his life.

Stanley Meeting: Livingstone completely lost contact with the outside world for 6 years and was ill most of the last 4 years of his life. Henry Morton Stanley, who had been sent to find him by the New York Herald newspaper in 1869, found Livingstone on November 10, 1871 in Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika…greeting him with the now famous words:
Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” to which Livingstone responded,
Yes, I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.”

Despite Stanley’s urgings, he was determined not to leave Africa until his mission was complete. His mission made him confused…and he had judgement difficulties at the end of his life. He failed to find connections to the Nile River…and retired to Lake Bangweulu and its swamps to explore possible rivers flowing out northward.

Death: David Livingstone died in Chief Chitamba’s village near Lake Bangweulu (present day Zambia) on May 1, 1873 from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery.

His Legacy:

In Canada: The “The Livingstone Range” ~ mountains of southern Alberta.
David Livingstone Elementary School ~ Vancouver, British Columbia
David Livingstone Community School ~ Winnipeg, Manitoba
Bronze bust ~ Halifax, Nova Scotia
Gold bust ~ Borden, Ontario
David Livingstone Avenue ~ Barrie, Ontario

Other Memorials:  Livingstone made geographical discoveries for European knowledge.
He inspired abolition of the slave trade; he inspired explorers and missionaries.
He opened up Central Africa to missionaries who initiated the education and health care for Africans.
He developed trade by the African Lakes Company.
He was held in esteem by many African chiefs and local people.
His name facilitated relationship between them and the British.

Merle Baird-Kerr…information assembled April 26, 2015
Your views appreciated…email or

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Proud to be "Canadian"

I'm proud to be a Loyal Canadian ~
'Tis my home, this country so scenically vast
From stormy Atlantic to the Pacific blue oceans
And Arctic waters in Ontario's North.

We've mountain ranges with snow-capped peaks ~
The Rockies in the West and Laurentians in the East;
And from sunrise to sunset, our golden prairies spread.
Forests tower with spruce, pine and cedars.
And sugar maple sap freely Spring flows;'
Mighty oaks, elms and white birch ~
Create a tapestry with glorious autumn hues.

Twenty per cent of the world's fresh water
Is located in Canada's rivers and lakes.
Our Great Lakes system feeds into the St. Lawrence:
A transportation road for freighters from abroad.
There's also the rivers of Yukon, Mackenzie, Peace,
The Skeena, Athabasca and Quebec's Saguenay.

Waterfalls abound 'cross Canada's domain:
Takkakaw, Della, Alfred Creek and Niagara.
Significant of all, my Burlington's neighbour
Boasts over eighty...tumbling the Escarpment:
City of Waterfalls...Hamilton's been dubbed.

Across our Provinces and northern Territories
Are forty-four protected National Parks.
We have rolling hills, grasslands so velvety green
That numerous birds and animals call home.

Our unique ten Provinces and three Territories
Comprise ethnic people who reside among us;
Whether farmer or sailor, artist or attorney,
We share our cultures and respect of language.

I'm proud to be a Citizen of Canada ~
I've tilled its soil and mowed sprawling lawns;
I drove the horses and then the tractor
To harvest hay, the grain and the corn.
My sister and I daily gathered the eggs ;
We seeded the garden and help spray the orchards;
We picked the berries of red, blue and purple.
From the upper loft, hay bales we collected
To feed the cattle, the horses and sheep.
Then petted the lambs and clucked to the chickens.
We learned to bake and competed with crafts at local fall fairs.
We studied music and sang in the church.
Attended village schools and played local sports.

Established as a teacher with the Board of Education,
I spent summers travelling, to tour my homeland.
Four times I've crossed my fair country
From downtown Toronto to Vancouver Island;
Twice to the Maritimes 'long the Atlantic coast.
Thirteen Euro countries I visited one summer
And several times been to United States.
In January/February '69, with my 4-year old son,
Visited Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Brazil
to meet my 'inlaws' and family friends.
In 2001, drove my son's Honda van
from California to home for its emission test.

Proud I am, a Patriotic Canadian!
I love its bands and precision parades
With colour-guards uniformed, in unison marching.
I pay allegiance to our Maple Leaf flag ~
Tears cloud my eyes when our anthem is sung.
Such is my Esteem!

Canada is coast-lined with three ocean waters.
'Tis like a Kaleidoscope with rich woven fabrics
Of diverse peoples...with diverse cultures...
With diverse landscapes...and four seasons of the year
Which Mother Nature brings for our celebrations.

I love Canada for its Heritage and Pageantry,
For opportunities that arise to enhance our lives:
Doors that open to those who yearn
To leave a Legacy for those who follow!

O Canada!

O Canada was proclaimed Canada's National Anthem on July 1, 1980 (100 years after it was sung on June 24, 1880). The music was composed by Calixa Lavallee, a well-known composer. French lyrics (composed as a prayer) were written by Sir Adolfe-Basile Routhier. I leave you with the entirety of the four written verses.
O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons' command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land, glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee;
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow;
Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow!
How dear to us thy broad domain
From East to Western sea!
The land of hope for all who toil,
The True North strong and free!
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies,
May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise
To keep thee steadfast thro' the years,
From East to Western sea.
Our own beloved native land ~
Our True North strong and free!
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

Ruler Supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion in thy loving care.
Help us to find, O God, in thee
A lasting rich reward.
As waiting for the better day,
We ever stand on guard.
God keep our land, glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

Merle Baird-Kerr...written July 5, 2015
To to:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Salute to July 2015

~ a Mosaic of Musings and Ramblings ~

Best Sermons are Lived: Today, as my father, 3 brothers and 2 sisters stood around Mother's hospital bed, she uttered her last coherent words before dying. She simply said, “I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often. (from Carolyn's collection)

Bizarre Amazing Fact: In 2010, a man who was lost in the woods of Northern Saskatchewan, Canada, chopped down some power lines so that workers would have to come and rescue him.

Community Updates... re Shipping: Vessel traffic and cargo activity in Hamilton Harbour (May 24-30)...Domestic 5; USA 7; Oversees 4). Effective May 31st, the Port of Hamilton had seen 117 vessels (commodities) this 2015 season (42% domestic; 31% USA; 27% voyages)

Heritage Lighthouse's Fate up in Air: A group trying to save the Beach Canal Lighthouse is waiting to find out if it is on the small list of lighthouses the Federal Government is willing to preserve. The 1858 lighthouse on the Burlington Canal is 1 of 348 that community groups petitioned the government to preserve.

Dairy Products: Today, there are 127 licensed dairy processing plants across Ontario...using the latest technology to make a package of more than 2000 dairy products that are shipped across the province every day...e.g. organic yogurt, cheese, ice cream and DHA enhanced milk.

Distracted Driving has surpassed 'impaired driving' as the Number 1 cause of fatal collisions on Ontario's highways. CAA has been advocating for stronger 'distracted driving' legislation since 2005. Currently, distracted drivers could face up to a $1000 fine plus 3 demerit points. Today, driving to Mapleview Mall with my grandson, we passed a female driver veering into our lane while texting or talking on her sell phone. My horn brought back her concentration!

Health is Wealth: Go Nuts for Breakfast! Peanut butter doesn't just stick to the roof of your also sticks to your ribs. Have some for breakfast and you'll stay satiated until after your regular lunchtime. Peanuts are legumes, and crunchy or creamy, is packed with fiber ...has good-for-you-fat and protein. Go ahead and spread it on your morning toast.

Humour: Communication Says it All (from Tom).
Wife texts husband on a cold winter morning. “Windows frozen...won't open.”
Husband texts back, “Gently pour some lukewarm water over it and gently tap the edges.”
Wife texts 5 minutes later, “Really messed up my computer.”

MBK's NewsBits:
Hamilton Police Target 'Big Four'. They handed out 197 tickets during a day-long traffic blitz on a May Friday...mostly for speeding and distracted driving along Dundas Street through Burlington and Oakville: targeting the 'Big Four Driving issues': impaired driving...distracted driving...aggressive driving...and failing to wear a seat belt.

Nature: Feisty Falcon Babies, Banded and Named
Lily, the new Queen of the nest, a top Hamilton's Sheraton Hotel has 2 chicks, Barton and McMaster. They objected to the indignity of being scooped from the family nest to be weighed and banded and photographed.. One chick displayed a 'look that could kill' at being handled.

Did you know that Luna Moths can have a wingspan measuring up to 10.5 cm. These very delicate females lay eggs on host plants such as white birch and sumac...hatching in a week.

Notable Dates: July 1 (Wednesday) ~ Canada Day; Memorial Day in Newfoundland
                          July 9 (Thursday) ~ Nunavut Day
                          July 10 to 26 ~ Pan American Games
                          July 19 (Sunday) ~ Canada's Parks Day

Pan American Medals Incorporate Braille for the First Time: They are crafted from metal mined in three different countries across the Americans. The diameter of a softball and as heavy as a can of soup, the back of the medals reads...Toronto English, Spanish and braille.
The medals were designed in collaboration with Metis artist, Christi Belcourt, produced by the Royal Canadian Mint and the metal supplied by Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. From three of its operations across the Americas ~ the gold from Hemlo mine in Ontario, the silver from its Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic and the copper from the Zalvidar mine in Chile.
The 4200 medals are unique...three layered ovals to represent the three Pan American regions.
Blue and green ribbons are for the Pan Am Games medals...
orange and red for Parapan Am medals.
Mark Tewksbury, an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, commented,
Beautiful and representative of our country and symbolic of the whole idea behind
Toronto 2015 ~ United We Play.”

Summer Water Safety:  
Boating is fun! Whether it is a fishing boat, a canoe or kayak or personal watercraft, basic safety tips apply:
Learn to swim is one of the most important ways to stay safe on the water.
Everyone in the watercraft must wear a life jacket.
Leave the alcohol on shore!
Be a weather-watcher...check the forecast before setting out.
Let someone onshore know the details of your trip.
Follow a pre-departure checklist to ensure all is in working order.
Maintain constant supervision of children regardless of their swimming ability.
Be respectful of buoys...other navigational aids... and boats.
Ensure that more than one person is familiar with all aspects of the boat's operations.

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...June 26, 2015